Libya, traffickers spread photos of migrants in detention centers on social media: ‘For families to see them and pay the ransoms’

Libya, traffickers spread photos of migrants in detention centers on social media: ‘For families to see them and pay the ransoms’
Libya, traffickers spread photos of migrants in detention centers on social media: ‘For families to see them and pay the ransoms’

In the hell of the damned Africans, kidnapped and disappeared in Libya, there is the extreme group: that of migrants that no one is looking for anymore. Good slaughter meat only to get money from families for the ransom. And so the Libyan criminal organizations, active in the chaos of a country without law and out of control for years, to make money on the skin of migrants fleeing to Europe have turned to the most fashionable technological system: social network.

Facebook, used by many to find old friends and acquaintances whose traces had been lost, is used by gangs in Libya to extort money from the families of young people mainly from sub-Saharan Africa: “Often the Africans stopped and imprisoned are able to contact families and ask them to pay the ransom and be set free. In some cases this does not happen. Criminals in Libya have no time to waste and regard human beings as gods ATMs to exploit. The last attempt to get in touch with the families of some of them is that of publish photos of boys and men on social networks and make them travel on the net until they can be recognized by someone in the hope of receiving the payment of the ransoms ”. To speak is Aboubacar (he prefers not to add other details of his identity), a native of Niger, the key country of the migratory routes of the wholeAfrica subsahariana he was born in Horn of Africa towards Libya. He himself, several years ago, traveled that path successfully, arriving in Italy and today he is in charge of mediation and migrants. It is part of a network of Nigerians operating between Libya and the rest of the two continents, some of whom have been integrated and have lived in the country for years, and confirms the system put in place by the organized gangs that have sprung up like mushrooms in the orphaned country of Muhammar Gaddafi for ten years.

One of these organizations has posted photos of dozens of migrants online and each of them has placed a tag with their respective number in their hands. A cross between a police recognition and the sale of human beings to the market. The gazes of the migrants are terrified, dismissed, begging for help, tired and almost resigned. Some faces present obvious tumfazioni gives beatings, wounds, puffy eyes. Their captors placed them with their backs to a neutral white background, instructed them to look towards the camera and above all to keep the identification number clearly in their hand or placed on the neck of the t-shirts and shirts: from 1 to up. until the 28th, at least in the photographic documents of which came to know, but it is not excluded that there may be many more.

The facial features of some of them tell of clear origins from the Horn of Africa and also Sudanese, but there is no shortage of people from other states, specifically from sub-Saharan Africa. The series of photographs posted was taken from the profile among the atria Sudanese around the world, one of the many international domains for receiving and disseminating news of fellow countrymen as there are many in the world. It has 720,000 followers and received more than a thousand comments on the post dedicated to arrested and photographed migrants. In the description of the post the manager of the domain writes: ‘Among them there are people arrested and their parents have not heard from for years. We ask anyone who recognizes one of them to notify the families ”. “Exactly the result that the jailers hoped to obtain – confirms Aboubacar -, to run those images and arrive at the probable source of the ransom. Share the photos to broaden the spectrum of analysis and reach all African countries. The strength of the network, in the case of which we speak mass in support of crime, but basically the only possible way to free migrants from prison and save them from certain death”.

The phenomenon of kidnappings and ransoms in Libya is a story already known in its drama and over the years it has evolved taking on ever new and different forms and techniques. The Nigerien immigrant in Italy helps us to understand more: “The boys in the photos are the ones that the criminal organizations have not yet managed to exploit. Their fate is dire, to stay inside urban prisons from Tripoli and other locations in northern Libya awaiting payment. And when there is no more hope, they are very likely to come killed because they were unprofitable. The migration system in Libya is very simple. The outlawed gangs intercept migrants on the border with neighboring countries, in particular Niger itself, but also theAlgeria, the Chad and the Sudan and guarantee their transport up to Tripolitania, always through the payment of sums of money of course. Migrants often do not know that once in Tripoli they will not be let go or put in contact with the organizations of the smugglers for the crossings of channel of Sicily and there the real ordeal begins. Gangs of human traffickers and smugglers are almost always the same thing. The system of payment of redemptions can take place in different ways, through the channels of remittances, on Western Union, MoneyGram and so on, but also by hand. Libyan criminals have contacts, intermediaries and referents in every African country and delivery is rapid and above all untraceable “.

Finally, Aboubacar is keen to affirm a concept: “In Italy there is a lot of talk about tragedies of the sea, of the boats of the NGOs that save lives in the Mediterraneo, but little, very little of the real migratory problem, that is what happens on land, in Libya. In the storage, in homes and urban warehouses where migrants are locked up, held hostage for months, years and where many will never leave. The dimensions of those tragedies are clearly superior in numerical terms compared to the tragedies of the sea ”.

Operating in Libya for international organizations is not easy. In particular for theUN High Commissioner for Refugees, always in the area to start humanitarian corridors, resettlement e assisted repatriations, but above all to limit the penalties of tens of thousands of migrants. Together with the transitional government of Cyrenaica and the Dcim (Directorate for combatting illegal migration) manage, as far as possible, i official detention centers which for years have hosted migrants seeking asylum in Libya: “Unfortunately, we know the phenomenon of abduction of migrants for extortion purposes well and in recent years it has been declined in various forms – he explains Caroline Gluck, head of external relations at UNHCR Libya – Specifically, the photos of migrants published on social networks by Libyan criminal organizations to reach their families, this is the first time this has happened to me. Having said that, I think it is highly plausible in its drama. All this is inhumane, the photos are hallucinating, especially those numbers held in hand. We try to do everything possible to limit the phenomena, but it is not easy to intervene everywhere “.

Speaking of Libya and Niger, on the evening of last Thursday, November 4, UNHCR managed to restart the airlift and 172 asylum seekers of various nationalities considered ‘vulnerable’ were evacuated from Libya. It hadn’t happened for more than a year, since the Libyan authorities had stopped humanitarian flights out of the country. The only problem for asylum seekers is that their flight did not take them to the ‘promised land’, any European country, but back to Niger. A dramatic ‘goose game’ on their skin: “Given the limited places, this operation should be considered an extreme solution for people who are extremely vulnerable and in need of safety and protection due to terrible detention and human trafficking,” he said. Jean-Paul Cavalieri, UNHCR head of mission in Libya.

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